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Topic: Hermit - Tonto - Boucher / Grand Canyon, March 2013< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 25 2012, 3:58 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I got the approval for time off in March 2013 so I am planning a Grand Canyon trip to coincide with my son's Spring Break in late March.

I'm looking at 3-4 days hiking and something a little off the beaten path, and preferably a loop.  My first choice is the Hermit - Tonto - Boucher loop, pending permits of course.

I've done plenty of searches on Backpacker forums, the 'net, etc and have found some great information, all very helpful.  I have a few questions though, mostly around mileage and where to camp, hoping some experienced with these trails can help.  I'm using the Nat'l Geographic map 262 and other resources found on-line so far.

I was hoping to make a trek with a Day 1 hike to camp; Day 2 exploring (same or nearby camp); Day 3 hiking towards trailhead, camping to split up the hike up/out; Day 4 hike out and drive home.

Day 1 - Leave Hermits Rest trailhead, hike to campsite - where?  Hermit Camp or Hermit Rapids?  What is realistic, and which is better.

Day 2 - If not camping at Hermit Rapids, hike to there to camp.  Day hike/Explore - what is around here?

Day 3 - Hike up Boucher to Yuma Point area (I understand this is a dry camp).

Day 4 - Hike out to trailhead.

I'm looking for any feedback on the itinerary, suggestions on mileage, camp sites, and places to explore.

Thanks for any help!

Tom
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 25 2012, 5:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I hiked your itinerary last April (2011).  It's a fun hike.  You're aware, I assume, that Boucher is a pretty rugged trail?  Possibly one of the most rugged of the established trails in the park.  There are gnarly bits and some exposure.  I thought it was really fun but it's not for the faint of heart.

Our 4-day itinerary was as follows:
Day 1 - Down Hermit trail to Hermit Camp
Day 2 - Hermit Camp to Boucher Creek
Day 3 - Boucher Creek to White's Butte
Day 4 - Hike out

Boucher use area is at-large camping, so if you have 2 nights in the use area, you can camp wherever you want.  We decided to camp at White's Butte instead of climbing up to Yuma Point because the forecast was for a really cold night.

Day 2 was a short day, which is something I like to plan for in the Canyon.  Hermit's not a bad descent but it's nice to give the legs a break on day 2.  We hiked down Hermit canyon to the river in the morning before hiking to Boucher.  I highly recommend doing this -- it's a beautiful canyon.   You can also hike to the river down Boucher from the camp at the creek.

Hiking up Boucher with extra water for the dry camp is tough.  It's worth getting a good understanding of how much you really need.  In March, you need to be prepared for cold nights when you get as high as Yuma.  In April, it was in the low-30's on White's Butte and they were forecasting snow on Yuma that night.

I think, next time, I'd spend my 3rd night around Boucher Creek again and hike out in one day.   Save the weight of the extra water plus cold-weather gear.  One of my hiking partners really wanted to break up the hike out, so that's what we did.

One thing I'd caution is that I wouldn't want to be on upper Boucher trail if there's snow or lots of rain.  The trail along the western rim of Hermit Canyon is pretty explosed and mostly dirt.  I imagine it would be pretty slippery in snow/rain.

I have decent pictures of the whole route but I'm in the process of moving my pictures to a different site.  If you're interested in them, I'll post a link after I get them moved over.

By the way, have you hiked in the Canyon before?  Not sure I'd recommend Boucher to a newbie for an early-spring hike.  Not that it's that tough but it's pretty remote and you probably won't see anyone else.  In March, you could very well get a snowstorm.  It might get pretty stetchy then.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 25 2012, 9:15 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks, TigerFan, that's some great information.  I'd like to see your pictures when you have them available again.

I was wondering about the chances of snow that early in the year, I'd better be prepared for that.  A Plan B could always be to hike back out Hermit, or I could modify the entire plan to go down Hermit and up Bright Angel.

Would you recommend any other 3-4 day routes for late March that might be less sketchy should a snow storm roll in?

I was 15 when I first hiked the Canyon.  March 2013 marks my 40th birthday, my son with be 13, so I thought it fitting I take him next year for his first Canyon hike (we've hiked together many times).  I have to work around his school year, so Spring Break or early June are our choices (need to include 1 day on each side for travel).  He's very athletic, patient and daring all in one. :)

Thanks for the great insight to the trail route, it's much appreciated.  I look forward to seeing your pics.

Tom
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 26 2012, 11:27 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You should only have to worry about snow in the upper elevations, about 4-5K and above.  At the river or around Hermit Camp, you should have nice warm days and cool but above freezing nights.   (I'll be there same time as you (around Easter) and will take a 30deg bag.)

My son's 14 and has been hiking with me in the Canyon the last 3 years.  I think your son would get a kick out of Boucher; it's a good trail for young knees. :D  Watch the weather forecast and if they're forecasting any significant snow, you might take some sort of traction devices with you for the hike out.  And if you see a lot of snow on the rim (from below), you might consider hiking out on Hermit.

You might also consider adding another night on your permit to give yourselves a little leeway.  You can always hike out a day early.  

My son and I did Deer Creek - Thunder River last fall and I think that's about as good as it gets for kids; lots of cool features like huge waterfalls, nice beaches, Deer Creek narrows.  The only issue might be access to the remote North Rim trailhead in March.  We were there in early November and watched the snow accumulating on the rim and started getting a little nervous; we had an "adventurous" drive out on the Forest Service roads.

My son also likes stopping at Phantom Ranch.  We spent a night at Bright Angel campground on a Clear Creek hike and also on a Hermit-Bright Angel hike.  Meals in the Canteen are fun.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 01 2012, 9:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

TigerFan - which hike did you like better - Hermit/Tonto/Boucher or Hermit/Tonto/Bright Angel?

I plan to submit for permits for both, just can't decide which one to put as my primary choice.  I think they'll both be fun and offer different experiences, and I doubt I can really go wrong.

Thanks,

Tom
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 01 2012, 11:49 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes, both are good hikes.  Personally, I liked the Boucher loop better but it's just about personal preference.  I'm not a big fan of the Tonto stretch between Monument and Indian Garden; it's flat, hot and frustrating (for me.)  I also don't particularly like the upper half of Bright Angel trail either.  Lots of mule poop and long gradual switchbacks.  Talk about prolonging the torture.  For the Hermit loop, I'd go down to Phantom Ranch for an extra night and then hike out South Kaibab.

The one negative about Boucher, and Hermit canyon in general, are the %#$@* helicopters.  That western corridor is really popular for the helicopter tours and they drone overhead all day long.  Ironic, imo, since the very crowded corridor trails are in the no-fly zone.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 01 2012, 2:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

LOL!  Thanks...your points are exactly why I was wanting to avoid some of the more popular trails.

I've heard that about the helicopters buzzing overhead, that's of course disappointing but everyone gets their view of the Canyon in their own way I guess, I just wish it were quieter. :)

Thanks again for your insight!

Tom
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6 replies since Sep. 25 2012, 3:58 pm < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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